Monday, 23 April 2007

Can the Union be saved?


How has it come to this? Fifty years ago, the question would never have arisen. Not until the late 1960s, around the time the first barrels of North Sea oil came ashore, did the SNP make any breakthrough. Devolution was a bid to arrest what was seen as a slide to independence.

Instead, it probably hastened it. Is anyone surprised when we made so little attempt to defend the integrity of the Union which, with all its flaws, was one of the most successful and enduring political systems in the world, the foundation of an empire, the crucible of democracy and enlightenment?

For goodness sake, which other nation would celebrate its 300th birthday in such a mealy-mouthed way, with the minting of a £2 coin, and that's it? Do you remember the spectacular bicentenary parties thrown by the Americans in 1976, or the French in 1989?

Where is the pomp and circumstance we do so well? Where is the leadership? It was all well and good for Messrs Blair and Brown rushing to man the barricades with panicky articles in this newspaper a few weeks back; but the fort had been overrun while they slept.

Even though some polls suggest a joint referendum held tomorrow might result in separation, a campaign in which the arguments were fully debated would probably pull the peoples of both countries back from the brink, though it would be a close- run thing. Read more

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